Location: Somewhere over the rainbow
|Since I was free from school, it is only natural that I take a break. Thursday was the only day I could really go to Catalina, due to schedule restraints, and so I booked a ticket for the 6 am departure out of Long Beach. I was going all alone as my mother had work. Armed with frozen peas and the anchovies from Huntington, I was ready. Once at the Mole, I was immediately greeted with a nasty surprise: all of the kelp had grown back. There were only a few open spots close to the pilings, and I settled for those. My first fish was, not surprisingly, a short calico.
I kept on fishing, catching more short calicos, blacksmith, and at one point a short sheephead. I could see the opaleye feeding in the kelp, but they would not take peas.
I had one rod down by the piling with 50 lb test and a dropper loop with a whole anchovy, while I used a lighter 10 lb outfit with a float rig to catch the smaller fish. As I was trying to coax an opaleye into taking my bait, the big pole went down violently. I set the hook into something solid, and was met with powerful resistance. Initially I thought it was a huge calico, but the fact it hadn't buried itself in the kelp meant that it was something different. When I saw it flash its flanks, I immediately thought it might be a black sea bass. But as I fought it to the top, it got lighter and more distinct. At the surface, I realized it was a good sized triggerfish. I didn't have a landing net of any sort, so I just heaved it over the railing. On the concrete, it flapped around furiously, while its teeth crunched angrily on the hook.
I unhooked it and managed to slip a knife in its small gill opening to bleed it out and threw it in the cooler. I got right back to fishing, catching nothing but short calico after short calico. Including one right at 13 7/8 inches. That hurt.
Eventually, the bite began to die down, and soon the wind started to pick up. I made the move to the Green Pleasure Pier. Once I got there, I noticed that one side was more or less taken up by a lot of gear and two guys. I set up on the other side of the pier and began to fish. The fish were strangely absent, at least at first glance, probably due to the sea lions that were present. I then struck up a conversation with one of them. As we were talking, he asked me if I went on a pierfishing website (sound familiar?). I said yes, and within a couple minutes, I was shaking hands with Ken Jones and Hashem. After a couple pictures, I began fishing once again in earnest. It became apparent that the ocean whitefish had basically replaced the calico in terms of sheer abundance, as every cast resulted in either nibblings or a whitefish. I did catch a couple worth keeping, and also ended up hooking several rock wrasse, of which three were unfortunately deep hooked and got a one way ticket to the mainland. I also unfortunately foul hooked a young whitefish to the point where its guts were coming out, so I humanely dispatched it and put it in the cooler.
As time passed, the sea lion went away and the calicos and opaleye came back out, along with a school of baitfish. I managed to catch three opaleye, but they weren't really up to my size standards, and were shallow hooked, so they were released. I caught two topsmelt and a jack mackerel. The jack mackerel went out as live bait, but after a little while, when I was checking my bait, it wasn't so live, being shredded by something. I send out the topsmelt, only to catch short calicos. Soon it was time to head back, as I was taking the 6:15 boat back home. I bid farewell to my new friends and headed down to the boat ramp. Once home, it was time to clean the fish. And boy, what fish to clean.
The triggerfish alone took almost 40 min, thanks to its tough skin and strong bone structure. I was able to get four nice fillets, the collar, and the head and frame for the stock pot. The rock wrasse ended up tasting pretty darn good, the female tasting better than the male for some reason.
The opaleye are either getting smarter or are too focused on eating kelp instead of taking peas.
There has been a lot of intermediate sized calico bass, with many fish nearing legal size. Guess all the ones from the GPP are growing up.
The kelp is making fishing at the Mole fairly difficult, though not impossible.
The swallow damsels showed up again. If this represents a range extension, that could be significant for later research.
Ego non baptizo te in nomine patris, sed in nomine diaboli!